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Roughly one million men, women, and children are estimated to participate in saltwater fishing in Massachusetts tidal waters each year. With increased privatization and development of our shoreline, providing public access to our marine waters is essential to maintaining and growing this vibrant saltwater sport fishing community. We do this through acquiring property and easements and building infrastructure including fishing piers and reefs, in partnership with other state and federal agencies.


Finding a Public Access Site

The Office of Fishing and Boating Access (OFBA) maintains a directory of public access sites including boat launches, boat ramps, fishing piers, and shore-side fishing areas in both saltwater and fresh water. Most sites supported by MarineFisheries are included. Information is available in both a searchable list view and map view.

Maps of artificial reef locations are available on our website, here.

All anglers should know their public access rights along the shoreline, which are outlined by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.


Our Projects

Our efforts to improve public access received a major boost in 2011, when the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund was established, creating a dedicated funding source from the sale of recreational saltwater fishing permits. The public access funds are divided into two subcategories, Cooperative Projects and Small Grants. In general, one Cooperative Project and five to ten Small Grant projects are funded each fiscal year.

Cooperative Projects: These projects include both new construction and maintenance to existing public access locations, many of which are done collaboratively with the OFBA. Large-scale coastal infrastructure projects (e.g., a new fishing pier) can require multiple years of design, permitting, and construction oversight. All cooperative projects are reimbursed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program

Small Grants:  Initiated in 2014, Small Grants enables municipalities to apply for funds to support projects in their towns that will enhance public access for saltwater fishing. All funded projects must allow for access to all saltwater anglers legally fishing in Massachusetts. Check back for information on applying for small grants in Fiscal Year 2017.


Recreational Fishing Public Access Improvements supported by the Division of Marine Fisheries

2016Harwich: deployment of artificial recreational fishing reef (details)Cooperative project with Town of Harwich
Plymouth: installation of fillet station at the Town Boat RampSmall grant
Rockport: landscape improvements along the Atlantic PatSmall grant
Marshfield: new LED lighting at the Green Harbor boat rampSmall grant
Gloucester: new float at Magnolia Pier; labor for this project was provided by the Gloucester High School wood shopSmall grant
Dennis: two new floats and a new gangway at Uncle Freeman's Landing boat ramp on Bass RiverSmall grant
2015Newburyport: replacement and improvement of existing pier at Cashman Park (map)Cooperative project with OFBA
Weymouth: new LED lighting at the Back River boat launchSmall grant
Eastham: expansion of pre-existing dredging project to make the State boat launch more useable.Small grant
Marshfield: creation of a path gangway, car top vessel launch, and fishing dock at Peter Igo Park on the Green RiverSmall grant
2014Oak Bluffs: construction of new fishing pier on Martha's Vineyard (map)Cooperative project with OFBA
Sandwich: improvements to existing Scusset fishing pier on the Cape Cod CanalCooperative project with OFBA and the Department of Conservation and Recreation
Mashpee: stairway replacement at Popponesset Beach access siteCooperative project with OFBA
Sandwich: parking lot improvements at Craven's Landing access siteDivision project
Westport: boat ramp float replacementCooperative project with OFBA
Marshfield: car top vessel launch and parking site improvements at Harbor Park access siteCooperative project with OFBA
Aquinnah: reestablishment of access path and parking lot at Dogfish Bar shore fishing siteCooperative project with OFBA
Swansea: improvements to Pierce's Point public waySmall grant
Quincy: boat ramp maintenance and a new gangway on Hough's NeckSmall grant
Rockport: landscape improvements along the Atlantic PathSmall grant
Fall River: new LED lighting at Bicentennial boat rampSmall grant
Duxbury: fish filleting station with running water, web cam with views of Duxbury Bay, and a weather stationSmall grant
2013Yarmouth: construction of new pier and improved parking on Bass River, Wilbur Park (map)Cooperative project with OFBA
2000Wareham: new construction of two piers on Wareham River at Besse Park (map)Cooperative project with OFBA
1999Sandwich: acquisition of property for Craven's Landing shore fishing site (details)Cooperative project
1996Aquinnah: acquisition of property for Dogfish Bar shore fishing site (details)Cooperative project
1993Edgartown: acquisition of property for East Beach shore fishing site (details)Cooperative project

Have questions? Contact Ross Kessler for more information about public access in the Commonwealth.